Reports have come out this evening confirming that Bob Bradley will stay as coach of the US Mens National Team for another four years. Just as speculation was growing that Bradley would be out, Jurgen Klinsmann would be in, and US Soccer was going to make some significant changes before the next World Cup, it seems that everyone has chosen stability over transformation. There are several different ways to look at this:
This was the right move
Bradley may not be the most charismatic character of all time, but he did well. Under his stewardship, the US won the Gold Cup, got to the finals of the Confederations Cup, won the CONCACAF qualifying group, and won its World Cup Group. While the US did crash out of the World Cup by losing to Ghana in overtime, that game was as close as a game could be, and had the US won it, this decision would be a no-brainer. While major countries like France and Italy were having personality breakdowns in South Africa, Bradley kept our boys loose, focused and together as a team. The team was in great shape physically, and despite the obvious limitations of the US squad, especially after Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu suffered serious injuries, the team met its main objective – getting to the knock out stage. Bradley has earned the chance to take the team to the next level.
This is a disaster
Bradley is not the guy to take the team to the next level. He made some fundamental mistakes in our tactics that cost the US a chance to really make a mark in South Africa. What was Ricardo Clark doing there against Ghana? What was Gooch doing in there against Slovenia when he could barely walk? Were it not for a saving goal by Landon Donovan, the US would have been going home in the group stages, and this decision would have been a no-brainer. Furthermore, that run at the Confederation Cup was not much of a run – we got slaughtered by Italy and Brazil in the group stage, lucked into the knock out stage, and blew a two goal lead in the final that could have delivered a historic moment for US Soccer. Finally, winning things in CONCACAF is no great challenge. Even Steve Sampson could achieve that! If the US is ever going to move up from the JVs to the Varsity squad of soccer nations, it needs new leadership.
Honestly, it really does not matter
There is no more over-valued job than coach of the national team. You don’t really develop players in that position, – you simply pick the best 23 available and see what happens. Perhaps a coach like Raymond Domenech can cause a team like France to fall apart, but only a fool would say that Vicente del Bosque caused Spain win in South Africa. Spain won because they have the best 23 players in the world. The US will have more success when they have better players, and the coach of the team has only the most marginal impact on growing the pool of players that can succeed at the highest level.
What do you think?